|(click on picture)|
The Aquarius computer is another example of a gamming machine
company trying to break into the Home Computer Market.
As with the Coleco Company, Mattel saw a booming computer market and felt that they too should have a computer in their product lineup. But unlike Coleco they didn't want to develop their own system. They wanted a ready made one and found one in Radofin Electronics. Radofin had a computer based on the Zilog Z80 8-bit processor that they were developing and looking for a major company to distribute it. It was released under the Mattel label and named Aquarius.
The public hated it. It had a terrible keyboard, practically no user RAM, very limited graphics, and poor sound capabilities. It was released with a cassette drive, a printer, and an expansion unit with 2 game controllers.
Unfortunately, Mattel would not have time to overcome the bad reviews and dismal sales, because 1983 was the year the bottom dropped out of the video game business. Within months of the release of the Aquarius, Mattel was reeling in financial distress. In fact Mattel was close to bankruptcy and with their core business in jeopardy and they had to cut costs. So in the fall of 1983 Mattel got out of the computer business.
I believe Aquarius was as much or more a victim of the video game crash of 1983 than a poorly designed computer because even with all of its faults it could have been fixed in time. But time was the one commodity Mattel did not have. The Aquarius was only on the market for about 8 months and its hard to say if it would have found a niche in the Home Computer Market if Mattel would have been able to keep the Aquarius line alive.
|Microprocessor||Zilog Z80A||Standard on system board||4K (1.7K user)|
|Clock speed||3.5 MHz||Maximum on system board||4K|
|Bus type||Mattel proprietary||Maximum total memory||52K|
|Data bus width||8-bits||Memory speed and type|
|Address bus width||16-bits||System board memory socket type|
|Interrupt levels||N/A||Number of memory module sockets|
|DMA channels||N/A||Memory used on system board|
|ROM size||8K||Internal disk and tape drive bays||none|
|Optional math coprocessor||no||Standard tape drives||optional|
|Parallel port type||no||Optional tape drives:||1 external|
|RS232C serial ports||no||* uses standard audio cassettes||yes|
|Mouse ports||opt. adapter||* 5 1/4 inch 1.2MB||no|
|UART chip used||N/A||* 3 1/2 inch 720k||no|
|Maximum speed||N/A||* 3 1/2 inch 1.44MB||no|
|CMOS real time clock||no||* 3 1/2 inch 2.88MB||no|
|CMOS RAM||no||Hard disk controller included||no|
Video & Graphics
|Graphics Processor||uses CPU||Sound Interface device||uses CPU|
|Screen size - Col x Rows||40 x 24||Sound generation||1 channel|
|Resolution - Colors/High||16 / 80 x 72||ADSR capable||no|
|Resolution - Colors/Low||16 / 40 x 24|
|Max colors||16||Programming language|
|Sprites or Missiles||none||Built in language||Microsoft BASIC|
|Built in M L monitor||no|
|Total adapter slots||1||Number of keys||49|
|Number of 8/16/32 bit slots||Upper/lower case||yes/yes|
|I / O ports||TV RF / printer / cassette||Keyboard cable length||integral keyboard|
|* Height||2 1/4 inches||Operating voltage @ 60 Hz||120 VAC|
|* Width||13 1/2 inches||Maximum power supplied||21 watts|
|* Depth||6 inches||Power supply output - volts||8.8 / 16 / 19 VDC|
|* Weight incl. power pack||4 1/2 pounds||Power supply output - amps||1.2 / .15 / .01 amps|